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Posted on 06/03/13

Korean War Veterans Have New Voice at RCC

The Korean War has been called “The Forgotten War.”  It should not be.  To forget is to devalue those who fought and to ignore the uncompromising lessons war teaches.

 To preserve a portion of that history, the Gerald B. James Library at Rockingham Community College has recently made available the Rockingham County Korean War-Era Veterans Project, an ambitious project undertaken by Michael Rose, RCC’s public services librarian.

“My father is a Korean War veteran,” said Rose.  “Over the years, as he told me about his war experiences, I realized this was a brutal conflict, a major turning point in the Cold War (a designation given when two sides capable of annihilating one another do not engage in open conflict).”

As written by retired U.S. Army Brigadier General John S. Brown, former Chief of Military History, the Korean War was, “The first major armed clash between Free World and Communist forces, as the so-called Cold War turned hot.”

Rose contacted local Korean War veterans using a list compiled from records located in every American Legion and Disabled American Veteran posts in Rockingham County.  Of those, thirteen agreed to tell their stories about their military service.  The recordings made from those interviews offer a glimpse of the war during combat and through the supportive roles.  The website for the Korean War-Era project, http://rockinghamcc.libguides.com/koreaveteransproject also provides links to information about the war, tapes of speeches and reports made during the war, and more. 

America joined the conflict on June 27, 1950.  During the next 37 months, over 135,000 Americans were killed or wounded.  North Carolina lost 805 men to the cause; almost one every day.  Technically, the war continues to this day because a peace treaty was never signed – both sides simply agreed to a ceasefire.

Many Korean War veterans, wrote Brown, “have considered themselves forgotten, their place in history sandwiched between the sheer size of World War II and the fierce controversies of the Vietnam War.”

But, as Brown said in 2000, the war needs to be remembered.  “(It) has much to teach us about military preparedness, global strategy, combined operations in a military alliance facing blatant aggression, and the courage and perseverance of the individual soldier. The modern world, he said, still lives with the consequences of a divided Korea (done so by the Allies) and with a militarily strong, economically weak, and unpredictable North Korea.

Local Korean War veterans from the county who were not contacted for the project but would like to participate are asked to contact Michael Rose at rosem@rockinghamcc.edu or at 336-342-4261, ext. 2271.   

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